Here is some basic information about puppies that you might find helpful.
Safety: your puppy has had her first set of shots and deworming. Puppies need to complete an
entire series of vaccinations before they are safe to be in any public place, such as a park, on a
sidewalk, at a rest stop, in a farmer's field or in a pet store. Those places are full of deadly
viruses (Parvo is everywhere, carried by other puppies before their owners knew they were sick,
and wildlife!) Please keep your puppy safe at home and in your own yard until she has had 4
shots and is at least 16 weeks of age. When traveling, let the pup potty on pee pads in a crate or
in the back of your car, not on the ground. Once your puppy is fully vaccinated, take her
everywhere with you! Your vet will set up a shot schedule for you…usually every 3 weeks. I do
recommend you take the puppy to the vet within the first 3 days to have a well puppy check and
Feeding: We feed and recommend Blue Buffalo Life Protection Puppy Food (chicken and brown
rice...the blue bag,) which you can buy at PetSmart or Petco or many feed stores. You can also
buy it online at amazon.com or chewy.com for a better price and have it delivered to your door!
Please make sure you have a bag on hand, as it is not good to switch puppy foods in the first 2
weeks. Blue Buffalo Puppy food is a 5 star food (out of a 1-5 star range) and is well liked by the
dogs. I also recommend buying some canned dog food to mix into the dry, along with some warm
water, the first few days to tempt your puppy's appetite...just use a teaspoon or so. After that
just feed dry food...it is better for his teeth. The puppy is used to eating three times per day. Put
a bowl of food down for the pup and then take it up again after 10 minutes. Let him eat as much
as he wants within those 10 minutes. Don't limit food for a growing pup, but let him eat as much
as he wants within the 10 minutes. Feed just three times per day (8-10 weeks of age) and twice
per day (10 weeks to adult) to help with housebreaking...he should poop just after he eats. After
he is totally housebroken, you can just leave the bowl down for him to eat when he wants. The
only time I limit food for a grown dog is if they have a weight problem, but most dogs don't and
will just eat what they need. If you have any trouble with stress induced diarrhea, feed Baby Rice
Cereal, just a bit of the canned food for flavor, and warm water for a couple days until it subsides.
Housebreaking: I recommend crate training, which basically entails keeping the puppy in a crate
when you are not playing with it, unless it is outside in a fenced area. Puppies sleep a lot and can
do that well in the crate. A puppy needs to be taken out immediately after it does any one of the
following three things:
At first, you will need to train yourself to take the puppy outside, just like potty training a child.
After awhile, the puppy will catch on and start to ask to go out. Setting a timer for every 45
minutes or so when the puppy is playing sometimes helps to remind you.
Make sure you use a crate that is small enough…if there is room for a sleeping place and a potty
place, the pup will go potty in the crate. If your crate is too big, duct tape a closed cardboard box
inside to use up some of the space until the pup grows. A crate that is 24 inches long will be the
right size for your grown dog. Use a box to make it smaller or get a wire crate with a movable
divider. The wire crates are really nice because you can reduce the size of the crate with a new
pup and enlarge it as he grows. Here is a puppy crate you can search for on Amazon.
"AmazonBasics Folding Metal Dog Crate" I like the 24 inch with a cover. (No matter how I try, I
cannot make the link to it work on my page here. If anyone has ideas, please let me know!)
Feed the puppy 3 times per day until 10 weeks of age, then only twice a day to reduce the
frequency of pooping. Do give water all day, but not at night. When you take the pup outside and
he goes potty, praise him lavishly! If he goes on the floor, speak harshly to him and take him out.
Some pups require a light slap on the rump…he needs to understand that he has done wrong
and show it by looking sad. If he thinks it is funny, and shows it by barking at you, he needs
more discipline. But you must be age appropriate, as well. Expect less of an 8 week old then a 12
Here is a trick to get your pup to poop that we have used in my family for generations. Every time
you want her to poop, take an (unused and unlit) match and dip the tip in water or spit on it or
whatever to get it a bit wet. Then insert it into her anus about half an inch and leave it there.
Take her outside and she will poop within a few minutes (and poop out the match.) Never light
the match...the sulfur on the end makes the pups want to poop. I use this whenever I ship
puppies and they never poop in their airline crates because they are already empty. So if you do
it every morning and evening, she will quickly get the hang of pooping outside. Our family has
used this technique to teach dogs to poop on command. We use "go potty" to tell them to pee...
then reward them with praise and pets or even a bit of cheese. We say "go more potty" when the
pup has the match in and then, when they go, praise them and perhaps give a treat. It is very
effective and soon the pup will go on command. I have had dogs that will strain and try to go
when I tell them to, even if there is nothing to poop! It is so convenient...for the rest of the dog's
life. Give it a try and let me know how it works for you.
The first few nights will be rough, as the puppy will cry in the crate. But do not give in and let the
pup out! If you win this battle, housebreaking will be much easier. By keeping the pup in the
crate overnight (8 hours at 8 weeks of age) you are teaching him to hold his bladder. If you do
not teach him this, it will be much harder to housebreak him because he will just pee whenever
he feels the urge! You can either put the pup and crate as far from your bedroom as possible to
allow you to sleep the first few nights (my recommendation,) or you can face the crate toward
your bed and use a squirt gun or spray bottle on the pup every time he howls. A nice quick squirt
on the pup’s face, through the grate of the cage door, will speed up the learning process
considerably. Eventually your pup will adjust to sleeping in the crate. After he is housebroken,
you can change this routine and let the pup in your bed or wherever…but wait until he is well
housebroken! If the pup messes in the crate, just clean it up. Don't get mad at the puppy. Instinct
will win out and teach him not to mess his bed. Just make sure the bed is small enough so that
there is not room for a potty area as well as a sleeping area. If your crate isn't small enough, put
a closed cardboard box inside to take up some of the space.
Toys and Chewies: Most puppies love stuffies. Just make sure you get stuffies without button
eyes or other choking hazards on them. All stuffies made for pets are fine. Some pups like
squeaky toys and others don't...you will just have to see what your pup prefers. When choosing
chewies, choose the big ones. The little ones that are the shape of pencils can be a choking
hazard. Pig ears are fine but no more then one per week. We highly recommend big beef knuckle
bones for all dogs and puppies. Those will keep their teeth clean better then any chewie! You can
get smoked and/or basted ones at the pet shop or on Amazon. Do not use boiled or cooked
bones, as they are a choking hazard...the bones are soft enough for the dog to break off bits and
swallow them. We also highly recommend Bully Sticks. Pups just love them and when you need a
break from a rambunctious puppy, give him a Bully Stick and he will be busy for a good long
Coming when called: make it a wonderful thing for your puppy to come to you. Never discipline
him if he comes to you. He is always a good puppy for coming (even if you are so mad at him you
have steam coming out your ears!) Cut up some tiny pieces of cheddar cheese (pea sized) and
leave them out on the counter to dry out. When they are dry, put them in a plastic baggie in your
pocket. Every time you say your puppy’s name, give him a piece. Don’t make him come at first,
just say his name and give it to him. Pretty soon he will look for you as soon as you say his
name. Then go a ways away and call him…reward him for coming with cheese and lots of praise.
He will come running when you call him very shortly! UPDATE: I have discovered Cheese Whiz! It
is a very easy treat source which you can have anywhere in the house, so that when you call
your pup, you always have a treat available. The pups love it right from the end of the nozzle.
Just use a tiny amount each time.
Dealing with dominance issues: Does your puppy nip too much? Jump up on the kids? Growl
when you pick him up? Act like he makes the rules and owns the house? With a puppy, you can
teach him or her from the beginning that you and your child are the pack leaders by doing a few
simple things. The most important thing I have found is to do to the pup what Cesar Milan (the
Dog Whisperer) does to dogs on his show. You put the puppy on his back on the ground. Using
your fingers, pin him by the neck, as if your fingers are your teeth and you are the aggressive
pack leader dog showing the pup who is boss. You don't need to say anything to the pup during
this time. Just hold him there, gently but firmly. You should not be rough or push so hard that it
hurts or chokes him. You are just holding him there until he relaxes and lies still. The first few
times you do it, he may struggle for a few minutes or longer. Just keep him there. You can use
your other hand on his body or to hold his back legs if necessary. An adult can assist a child by
holding the pup's body. After a while, the pup will know the routine and will relax right away. As
soon as he is relaxed and lying still, you can let him up. If you let him up prior to this relaxed
state, you will accomplish nothing. He has to give in for this to work.
Do this EVERY time your pup jumps on you or someone else, bites or nips you, or is obnoxious
in any other way. Even if he is the perfect puppy, do it at least once per day.
This seems silly but in dog language, you are telling the pup that you are the boss. By lying still,
he is telling you that he is submissive. It is an ongoing conversation you should have with your
new puppy at least once per day. Children should do it too...it is vital that the pup understands
that the child is the boss. This will eliminate so many issues such as jealousy, jumping up,
nipping, possessiveness, etc. You won't believe what a powerful tool this is!
Using the pinning technique, we have rehabilitated child-biting dogs so that they were safe for
any child to pick up. I cannot overstate how important pinning is!
The second thing that I have found helpful is not to allow the puppy to go out the door first. Put
the pup on a leash to go through the door and make him wait until you go through first, then he
follows. This is not as essential as the pinning and if you don't get to it, the dog can still turn out
fine, but if you do it, it will help even more.
The third thing, like the second, is not essential but very helpful. Give your puppy a treat such as
a bone, chewie, or whatever. Then with confidence (not fearfully or with any hesitation) take it
right out of his mouth again. Then give it back. Taking it away from your pup teaches him that
food is a privilege, not a right. Dogs should never have rights other then good care. Everything
else is a privilege and they need to know that. A dog should not object if a person takes away his
food. This will eliminate a lot of possessiveness issues. Of course, be kind in this and eventually
allow the pup to eat the treat!
Biting: Biting is almost always an issue that comes up with puppies. What she is doing, by biting
and/or growling, is trying to sort out the pecking order in her new pack (family.) In her previous
puppy pack, that is how her siblings worked things out. You need to establish that you and the
other humans in her pack are higher in the pecking order then she is! This is a huge issue and if
you solve it now, your life with your puppy will be so much easier.
So, you need to be as harsh as necessary to help her understand that she is not in charge. First,
try snapping her on the nose or mouth when she bites. If she still is not sure that you are above
her in authority (and therefore should not be bitten,) the next step would be pinning her (see
pinning instructions above) If even after that she is growling, barking, or biting, then you can
pick her up by the scruff of her neck (like her momma did when she was here) and tell her NO
very firmly. If she growls or really struggles, a firm slap on her rump while you are holding her by
the nap should convince her.
There is a progression to these steps and you only want to go as far as she needs. The firmer
you are with each step, the less likely you will have to repeat them or go on to the next step. You
want to stop at the point where she is sad and sorry for her naughtiness. But don't stop until you
get there! It does work with every single puppy we have had...and we have had lots. It won't
make her afraid of you, any more then she is afraid of her mom, who did the same things to her
all her life so far. A few times of proper correction and she will get it...and be a happier pup for
The wild hour: A wild time, usually in the evening, is very common in puppies and remains
common in dogs. Some evenings here the dogs just go nuts and rip through the house like
they've gone wild. Probably it hearkens back to wild dog packs howling in the evening. Some
think it is also an attempt to keep your attention so she won't have to go to bed in the crate...
much like a child thinking of some deep conversational topic right at bedtime. But regardless of
the wildness (which can be cute and funny,) biting and being naughty needs to NOT be allowed.
Anticipate her wild hour and provide her with some new toy or perhaps keep some really nice
squeaky toys just for this hour...don't let her play with them any other time. Encourage fetching,
running, and other fun puppy activities. Do not allow biting. See the advice about biting above.
Another thing that I have found very helpful if you do not want her to be wild, is to provide a bully
stick for her to chew on as soon as you sense the wild hour is coming on. She might grab it and
run a little, but in the end, the delicious taste of those bully sticks will win her over and the
serious chewing that it takes to chew one up will drain her energy. Buy them here Bully Sticks or
at Costco. These bully sticks are the best dog chew I have ever found for puppies. You can also
just put her outside for the wild hour and she will find things to do out there to drain her energy.
Providing her with lots of basted beef bones, toys, etc, will help her to direct her energies in
ways that are acceptable. Remember she is just a baby and isn't intentionally being a bad puppy...
she is just full of healthy energy in the evening and being so full of herself, will push boundaries,
as all young things do. You just have to direct it into acceptable play.
Once you put her in the crate for the night, do not do anything about it if she is wild. Just ignore
her. When it is bedtime, play time is over and she needs to adjust to that. Consistency is the key
here...every time you give in and even acknowledge her, you go backwards in training. Once she
is put to bed, pretend she does not exist. She will adapt and will easily sleep in her crate when
she is put in. It is soooo nice to have that training all the dog's life. You can give her a bully stick
or toy or chewy or whatever in the crate ONLY if you give it right when you put her in. Never put
her in, listen to her whine, and then think, “oh, I forgot her chewy...I should give her one now.”
That will only teach her to whine and fuss when you put her in the crate. If you forget, wait until
the next night and remember at the beginning.
Excited or submissive peeing: When a puppy is reacting to you or someone else in fear or over
excitement you need to help him think with the front part of his brain, which is all about smell. So
every time someone approaches him they need to take a treat. At first, let him smell the treat and
then give it to him every time you approach him. It gets him thinking with his nose, which is very
healthy and natural for dogs. And it gives him a good association with people approaching him.
As time goes on and he stops being so reactive, you can just let him smell the treat...then back
up and get him to come to you. The more you can get him to come to you by following his nose,
the more stable he will be. If he cowers or pees, ignore him. By reacting to that behavior you are
encouraging it. Don't try to comfort him. Don't give him a treat. Certainly don't discipline him.
Don't look at him, talk to him, or touch him. Totally ignore him until it stops, then try to approach
him with a treat. If he pees again, ignore again.
Peeing in fear is not the same as going potty in the house. He can't control the pee when he is
scared, so don't react to him peeing that way at all. Just clean it up and spray some enzyme
cleaner on the spot. Or, put a belly band on him, or a diaper (disposable size 1 or 2, cut a hole for
the tail) or diaper cover on her, to save your floors. You can buy the belly bands on Amazon, or
you can use a disposable diaper stretched around his middle like a band, or really anything
absorbent stretched around him covering the essential part.
He will grow out of this, but will do so much faster if you heed this advice.
Bolting out the door and running down the road: This is so dangerous and we have heard of
several dogs being hit by cars when they did this. There are two ways to go about training your
dog to come when she is loose and really, a mix of the two works best. 1. When she is in the
house or yard, call her and reward her with a treat every single time. Call her many, many times
and reward her LAVISHLY until she just flies to you. Start this with your puppy and if you do it
well, she may never bolt. Carry treats in your pocket because you must reward her every single
time and the reward must be instant...as soon as she reaches you. I like to keep a can of Cheese
Whiz in my pocket when I am doing this training. Give her just a bit of it and give lavish praise to
her for coming. Make coming to you the most fun thing she knows of! Do this for at least 2
weeks in areas where she is confined (house, yard, etc.) BEFORE you ever try it outside. Then
you add the second technique. 2. Put a long, long line on her. At least 20 ft long so she feels
free. I use that plastic yellow rope from the hardware store because it doesn't tangle much. Let
her drag it around the house and yard so she is used to it. Then go outside (out of the yard) with
her and hold just the end of the rope. Call her to you and if she comes give LAVISH treats and
praise! If she runs or ignores you, pull up the slack on the rope quickly and give her a hard jerk.
Then call again. If she comes, praise her lavishly and give lots of treats. If not, repeat the jerk
until she does come. Keep the line very loose by following her, except when you call her.
The key to this is twofold. She is ALWAYS a good dog if she comes to you and you NEVER give
her a chance to not come, for this training period. You have to be extra careful that she never
gets loose without that long rope on. It is so dangerous. Eventually, when she flies to you when
called, even when outside on the long rope, you can let her loose and feel confident that she will
come to you because you have made coming to you such fun that it is BETTER than bolting.
You are always free to contact us with any questions or concerns about your puppy...for the life
of your dog and beyond!
We highly recommend
that all dog owners
The Dog Whisperer
It airs weekly. You can
also get copies of past
Cesar Millan has a
book out called, "How
to Raise the Perfect
Dog." It is a wonderful
resource and we
reading it, though as
with all books, we
don't endorse every
single thing the author
Click the link above to
buy it on Amazon.